Making a Difference: Patrick McGannon, president of the Bay Village Green Team
Third in a series of articles that aims to inspire readers to take the risk to try something new, see the positive in life, and recognize that everyday people can make a difference by following their passions.
The Bay Village Green Team is a 100% volunteer-operated non-profit organization founded in 2007. Its vision is for Bay Village to become a model sustainable community. This means "passing on the world in as good as or better condition as was handed on to us,” says Patrick McGannon, president of the Green Team.
“I was always geared toward the natural world,” he says. “Growing up in Bay, you could find me outside playing in the woods and biking the neighborhood with friends.”
Patrick started out as a pre-med student at John Carroll University, but changed plans during the last semester of college. Instead, he added courses that focused on the environment and graduated with a degree in biology.
“I fell into my information technology (IT) career by accident. My neighbor was the president of a local IT company and a friend of mine wanted me to ask him about an internship. I did and he said, ‘Sure, we’ll do that, and would you like one too?’” recalls Patrick. The following year, he accepted that offer. He was fortunate to learn the profession on-the-job during the Y2K era. “While it never was my long-term plan, 20 years later, it has worked out well”, says Patrick.
The Bay Village Green Team was originally formed as an advisory committee to former Mayor Debbie Sutherland in the early 2000s. When the mayor asked for volunteers with experience in sustainability issues, Patrick applied with his biology background and was accepted.
Later, however, Patrick continues, “The city said we could no longer be under the city’s funding. We had to decide whether to keep the Green Team going. I said, ‘Let’s do this!’” Patrick ended up spearheading the Green Team as it navigated through the non-profit process.
Once a non-profit, the Green Team applied for grants for projects such as getting water bottle-filling stations in Bay Village city parks and buildings and coordinating monthly waterway cleanups.
Patrick’s proudest accomplishment was the 2014 joint effort between the Village Bicycle Cooperative, the Bay Skate and Bike Park Foundation and the Bay Village Green Team to revise local bike laws. “If I’m going to try to change something, I’m going to bring a solution, not just a problem,” says Patrick.
“Two years prior to updating the code, we donated 76 ‘Share the Road’ signs to the city,” says Patrick. As a result, there was a need to revise the local code to ensure it focused on safety and complied with state laws. Patrick presented the fully written code to City Council. After several additional presentations to council, the revised code was approved.
“What I really like most about volunteering is you meet a lot of really good people – selfless people”, says Patrick. “For example, Jennifer Smillie came to a Green Team meeting in 2011 to present her idea of starting the Village Bicycle Cooperative. We worked together to bring her idea to reality. Now she’s one of my best friends and I never would have known her had we not volunteered!
"I like to draw people in to help make our water, soil and air more sustainable. You don’t have to make major commitments to be a volunteer; you can simply volunteer whatever time you have,” he adds. "My motto: ’Leave no trace.’”
To learn more about the Bay Village Green Team, follow its Facebook page or go to its website at bayvillagegreenteam.org.
Resident of Bay Village since 1987.